On Thursday, the Appeal Court in Owerri, the capital city of Imo State, invalidated all the irregular governorship primaries directed by Julius Abure, the national chairperson of the party. This decision escalates the current tensions within the Labor Party over its ongoing leadership contest.
The court demanded the Independent National Electoral Commission to promptly identify and broadcast the names of all governorship candidates in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states represented by the National Working Committee led by Lamidi Apapa during the court hearing, which was reconvened from Owerri to Abuja due to safety issues.
Additionally, the Court of Appeal dismissed Senator Athan Achonu’s application for the governor’s post in Imo State.
While addressing the press in Abuja, Apapa insisted that the court decision confirmed that Abure was not the authentic party chair at the time of the primary elections.
Apapa further revealed that the High Court’s prohibition on Abure presenting himself as the LP chairperson still stands.
Apapa explained, “The Edo State matter, to a considerable extent, relates to civil issues. The executives in Edo suspended him, leading to a court case. However, they don’t have the authority to suspend him.” This refers to bureau level matters.
“The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) restraining order, however, pertains to criminal matters and concerns the state versus Abure, acknowledging that no one is immune from the law. This marks the distinction between civil and criminal cases.
“The FCT prohibition was never revoked, thus, the Court of Appeal reinstated that the restraining order was in effect during his primaries and continues to be validated to this day. That’s how both matters differ.”
Peter Obi, the party’s Presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, contested the court decision during the party’s significant event in Benin City earlier this week. The faction leader disclosed that he is always ready for reconciliation.
He expressed, “You would agree with me that just two days ago, our manager and Abure went to Owerri in defiance of the court order stating that Honorable Ikenga was the rightful candidate for Imo State. They proceeded and endorsed someone who was legally advised not to proceed based on Imo State’s judgment. Today, this was additionally strengthened by the Court of Appeal. I’m not sure what their next step would be.”
However, in a privileged phone conversation with The PUNCH, Abure dismissed these claims as false news. “Senator Athan Achonu remains our candidate. The lower court stated it lacks the power to consider the case and the status quo should persist.”
“The motive behind our appeal was the judge’s passing remark after denying jurisdiction. We didn’t want it to be exploited by challenging it. The court clarified today that the appeal was unnecessary since it denied jurisdiction. That’s their ruling. Neither the Supreme Federal Court nor the Court of Appeal has ruled in their favor. We are aware that they are accustomed to disseminating propaganda and the like.”
Umar Farouk, the LP National Secretary, also stated that Abure was not mentioned in the appeal court’s ruling.
Farouk clarified, “The report was incorrect. Abure wasn’t referred to anywhere in the statement. There’s nothing about him in the verdict. Someone has manipulated the verdict. It’s incorrect,” said Farouk.